One of Norway’s most legendary bands, (that you might be forgiven for never having heard of them, Right? Right) anyway Norway has a good history of knocking out some fantastic bands and a lot of them have been mentioned here on RPM.  Backstreet Girls, Turbonegro, Gluecifer, Good Bad the Zugly, Razorbats, and of course Mayhem.

Well, these punk/hardcore veterans are fronted by Billy Cockroach, one of the first vocalists of Mayhem he performed on the 1987 album “Deathcrush” under the moniker of Messiah and they offer us well-aged vintage punk rock full of cheerful aggression and infectious tunes. throwing in Mayhem is a bit of a red herring because its nothing like Deathcrush this is polished positively glistening in the production stakes compared to that Black Metal demo.

‘Songs about Blunt Knives and Deep Love’, has only taken 22 bloody long years to reach our ears kinda puts Axel to shame with his Chinese Democracy. They’re being heralded as one of Norway’s most legendary bands, it basically consists of new recordings of old hits as well as a handful of new tracks and a cover of Mountain Goat’s “Going to Georgia”. It started out as an idea from producer Hugo Alvarstein (The Good the Bad and the Zugly, Raga Rockers, etc…) Who suggested the band go rehearse their best songs from the 1990s then call him up and he’d take em into his studio and get them recorded and give the songs the justice they deserve. To be fair he’s clearly a man of his word and has recorded one hell of an album..

The band started out as far back as 1994, building a loyal fan base and a reputation of being a riotous live band along the way. Compared to the bands two previous offerings this one is the dog’s bollocks and one that should rightly exalt them to the top table of punk rock.

Having honed the tunes by sharing the stage with acts like The Toy Dolls, Discharge, UK Subs, The Exploited, Cock Sparrer, Anti-Nowhere League, Vice Squad and GBH through the years, now it’s about time they put their hat in the ring with a bunch of songs that justified their boast of being up there with the best of them.

The album begins with a cover, ‘Going To Georgia’ and it drops its music bombs right square in the middle of the speakers with it’s spoken/sung verses holding up rather well over a musical backdrop that just crackles along with a joy and sound of a band just killing it doing something they love for the love. ‘You Have A Bun’ is a breath of fresh air as it has plenty of bounce and whilst the vocals are aggressive (often quite shouty) what did you think he was going to sound like? Ian Gillan? that’s the thing its aggressive as fuck but it sounds content and dare I say it – Happy at the same time, oh and the production is great and really lifts the songs.

‘Fantasyland’ has a little bit of Thin Lizzy in those dueling guitars on the intro.  I did a little momentary gasp on the intro of the piraty ‘Three Wishes’ as I thought we were getting some h ho ho shanty music but worry not me hearties it was only a false intro. Still, it’s quite piraty its the good end of piraty.

‘On An Island’ is just a banger with its head down its one foot in the Motorhead camp and the other, say, Argy Bargy – Imagine that? To be fair the middle part of the album isn’t fucking about and gets stuck in like The Adicts on a good day.  ‘Facts On The Wall’ is Ramones rapid with a dumb yet happy melody and ripping solo this is shaping up to be an excellent record.  ‘Necktie Party’ has a bit of a Crass vibe about it. These boys and these songs would go down a storm at somewhere like Rebellion Festival.

A lot of the pace and tempo of the songs remind me of a Norweigan Sham 69 and none more so that ‘Do It Again’ which is one of the highlights of the record on the breakdown it’s like vintage high jinx Damned who always threw in some cool off the wall melodies in fact there are plenty of influences I am feeling here more than ripping off a band they dance to their own tunes and just let their influences just bleed through..

With twelve songs on offer, I would highly recommend you at least give these cats the benefit of doubt and check em out and once you do that I’m sure you’ll be convinced.  Great album I’m glad has seen the light of day and hope it’s given the band the energy and drive to do it all again except to say next time don’t leave it so fucking long. – Buy it!

 

 

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The first new record from Lucas and his Subhumans in a while (Twelve Years?) and with the current global situation its not like Lucas has had writers block or lacking the inspiration.  Everywhere you look there’s a meltdown – climate change, government leaders lying, despots taking over, smiling, lying and cheating yet it seems OK to the public. Nobody loses their jobs its all fair game. Summed up nicely on ‘Fear & Confusion’. A more polished sounding record that their last outing ‘Internal Riot’ but it every bit as sharp and relevant.

To be fair Subhumans have always released intelligent records their Anarcho leanings have always been dressed really well in big riffs, tight time changes and some sharp as fuck punk rock. ‘Crisis Point’ seems apt as Lucas starts the war cry with the flurry of opening punches on ‘Terrorist In Waiting’ great lyrics (as usual) thunderous drumming and riffs raining down on the listener with an energy and excitement that sets the album up really well.

throughout the albums eleven tracks the ebb and flow is excellent.  I love the attitude on ‘Atom Screen War’ emanating from the riff as it pounds away but it’s nicely pinned by the bass thats rumbling away underneath.  To be fair the sound is reminiscent of the last few UK Subs albums. ‘Follow The Leader’ takes that edginess up a notch as the album has warmed up and is really taking flight. Strange land has the feel and sound the band had back in the ’80s with that flange riff and repetitive beat its a really good tune and one that shows how bloody good a band Subhumans are.

Its no good looking for a weakness because there isn’t one.  Its a really consistent album its focused and as you’d imagine thought provoking with excellent lyrics and a great production. ‘Crisis Point’ is ticking all the boxes whats not to like? If you want fast no nonsense heads down punk rock then Subhumans do that ‘Poison’ if you want intricate musicianship Subhumans can do that for you, if you want lyrics that are well constructed and thought provoking to prick your conscience subhumans can do that. They were a big part of that early ’80s punk explosion and are still going strong along with the Subs,  they always turned in better records than Crass and Conflict in my humble opinion and this record is proof that they are as relevant now as they always were. ‘Crisis Point’ can cover all your modern punk rock needs as well as you old school punks wondering if Dick has still got it.  Of course he has. My advice is get hold of ‘Crisis Point’ now and get on board its never too late. Buy it!

Pick up a Copy Here 

Author: Dom Daley

 

Strung Out has been together for almost 30 years –You would be forgiven for thinking they are a new band such is the energy of these songs. Produced by Cameron Webb, who was behind the helm of 2009’s Agents of the Underground, it’s a record that has the fire of a new band.

The band are older (obviously) and dare I say it wiser. Yet they play like young men musically and lyricly they view a “big Picture”  as they struggle to make sense of the chaos of the world we live in.

Much of frontman Cruz’s lyrics come from the death of someone he was incredibly close to. That’s something which has exaggerated and exacerbated Cruz’s emotional fragility and continues the spiritual and philosophical journey he says he’s found himself on in recent years. At the same time, though, these songs are also infused with a spirit of hope and defiance.

“I lost my best friend six or seven months ago,” explains Cruz. “It was right before we started writing this record, and that really put a shadow on things. Some of these songs – especially “Monuments” and “Bloody Knuckles” – reflect that loss. But that’s what’s always made our band work. The music is this metal machine and then you get these vocals that express this vulnerability in a melodic way – and there’s love and there’s searching in all that machine. This record starts out hopeful and then it kind of degrades. It sobers and ends with loss. But there are so many things on this record that I’m still figuring it out.”

The albums starts with ‘Rebels And Saints’ and don’t get lulled into a false start becasue its a woven dash and the sunny Californian feel hits you. Melodic and fast. whilst ‘Daggers’ might be darker its almost punk metal in the riffs and pace it tells a story of personal turmoil within the backdrop of an increasingly dystopian America.  Strung Out’s trademark melody and aggression is more metal than Bad Religion and its ebb and flow is maintained throughout the album. Its not really a scene that has taken off massivly in the UK and has a very American feel to it songs like ‘Dissapearing City’ cross over as does the pacey and layered harmonies of ‘Politics Of Sleep’.

Penultimate track ‘Strange Notes’ is bordering on Anthrax metal thrashing mad with a frantic drum roll on the intro like I say some might say it ebbs and flows through the gears throughout the album whilst the next man might say its that constant ebb and flow that pulverises that detracts from the songs as there doesn’t seem too much light and shade throughout the three quarters of an hours worth of music. They could totally land a slot at Download though which might well help US punk cross over to the UK.

The band head out in support of the album for the rest of the year throughout North America where I’m sure they’ll hoover up audiences with their energy alone.  To be fair they’ve always had a tonne of energy  but this is a little more metallic that say ‘Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues’ that was just the right side of this frantic paced style of music.

Buy Songs Of Armour And Devotion Here

Author: Dom Daley

Strung Out will be making the following appearances this fall. Dates below.

SEPTEMBER

18 – Ybor, FL – Crowbar

19 – Gainesville, FL – The Wooly

20 – West Palm Beach, FL – Respectable Street

21 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall

22 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl

24 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s 42nd St.Tavern

25 – Virginia Beach, VA – The Bunker

26 – Baltimore, MD – Otto Bar

27 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes

28 – New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge

29 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

OCTOBER

01 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall

02 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda

03 – Quebec City, QC – La Source

04 – Ottawa, ON – The 27 Club

05 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House

06 – London, ON – London Music Hall – Rum Runners

08 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Crafthouse Stage & Grill

09 – Detroit, MI – Small’s

10 – Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge

11 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club

12 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room

13 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre

31 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre

NOVEMBER

01 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre

02 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon

03 – Boise, ID – The Olympic

04 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall

08 – Dallas, TX – Three Links

09 – Corpus Christi, TX – House of Rock

10 – Austin, TX – Come and Take It Live

12 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock

13 – Las Vegas, NV – Dive Bar

14 – San Diego, CA – Irenic

15 – Santa Barbara, CA – Velvet Jones

16 – Sacramento, CA – Holy Diver

17 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

19 – Fresno, CA – Strummer’s

20 – Morro Bay – The Siren

21 – Lancaster, CA – American Legion

22 – Garden Grove, CA – Garden Amp

23 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre

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Vancouver’s hard-rock icons ART OF DYING are set to release a new studio album, “Armageddon”, on the 4th October 2019. The album will be preceded by a new title track single taken from the album

The Art Of Dying story starts with their talismanic front man Jonny Hetherington. From hours busking on the corners of frozen streets to gatecrashing some of North America’s biggest venues, to writing and recording records of truly earth-shattering proportions, the trajectory of the quartet’s career has astonished both fans and industry insiders alike.

ART OF DYING have been able to create muscular, vivacious hard-rock bursting with lung-shattering choruses and a sincerity that is impossible to fake. Equally at home with a lead-fingered riff or a deft slow-burner, there is an ease of breadth in AOD’s repertoire.

“I was blown away when I first heard their independent record,” enthuses DISTURBED guitarist Dan Donegan. “I lived with it for quite a while and I was so impressed with the quality of the songwriting that I had a feeling there was something special going on. David (DISTURBED vocalist David Draiman) and I had been looking for someone to sign to our imprint for a while, but I wanted to make sure the guys could do it live – it’s hard to find a band that are the complete package these days. So, we invited them out on a DISTURBED tour of America, we really threw them in the deep end!”

The band introduced guitarist Tavis Stanley and bassist Cale Gontier to their ranks on the eve of the run with DISTURBED – the quartet playing onstage together for the very first time during the soundcheck of the opening show of the tour. But suddenly, everything clicked. “The moment I knew that we had it right was when our voices started harmonizing,” says Hetherington, of the band’s now-trademark three-way vocals for which David Draiman has dubbed them “Eagles in Chains” referencing a blend of 70s supergroup The Eagles and 90s grunge rockers Alice In Chains.

Now, with two critically-acclaimed and widely-played major label releases under their belts, Art Of Dying are returning with Full Length Album “Armageddon”, their most imperious effort to date. “It’s a dark record.” Says Jonny. “Even the cover art (featuring NYC artist Stefano Losi’s painting of Pharaoh Thutmose III) is inspired by the album title. Thutmose lead the historic battle in Megiddo, (aka Armageddon) the first war in history where proper records were kept and a body count was taken.”

Themes like “No One Ever Wins”, “Dark Days” and “Unoriginal” take the listener down to visit the depths of the deep end. But no Art of Dying record would be complete without the inspirational balance of spine-tingling anthems like new single “Armageddon”, “Cut It All Away” and “ShatterProof”.

Of first single “Armageddon” Jonny Hetherington says, “Life sucks. Life is beautiful. Writing Armageddon got me through a tough time and helped shake a few of the demons off my back. If you feel like your world is caving in, like you’re trapped in your own personal Armageddon, I hope you will find the strength to get out.”

If ARMAGEDDON is about one thing above all else it is a study on the power of human will and the uplifting capacity of one’s own self belief. This is rip-snorting rock ’n’ roll that will smash your self-doubt into a million pieces.

 

“Armageddon” is released through Get A Grip on the 4th October 2019. The new album is available to preorder now, including a limited transparent red vinyl pressing:
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I’ve been a huge fan of Ricky Warwick for a long time and have enjoyed whatever music he has put out whether it’s the loud punk-metal of The Almighty or his storytelling solo albums and what we now come to know the great rock’n’roll of the Black Star Riders.

On the first trio of the Black Star riders albums, the songs have been largely co-written by Ricky and guitarists Damon Johnson and the legend that is guitar slinger Scott Gorham.

So it was a surprise when it was let known that Damon Johnson was moving on to pastures new and that the vacant guitar player slot was being filled by Christian Matrucci who is guitarist of Stone Sour and also to my delight I have discovered he has had various bands of his own over the years which I have found too have released top draw music but the question is  would he gell with Black Star Riders.

Fear, not Christian has not only fitted in but the music is all the better for it.

Starting off this new album titled “Another State Of Grace” we have the track “Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down” and immediately the ears are treated to a great guitar riff and Ricky’s trademark gruff vocal. Scott and Christian’s guitar mesh together beautifully to create a great rock’n’roll sound and we even have some saxophone added into the mix which fits in perfectly.

On track two we get the song “Another State Of Grace” which was the first song to be released as a single and this song has a big Celtic sound to it with a backing chant of “hey” being shouted which really makes the track stand out.

Up next we have “Ain’t The End Of The World” which is the second single to be released and this track has what I would call the classic Thin Lizzy sound with Scott Gorham’s trademark guitar all over it yet has a freshness that while takes you back to the glory days of Thin Lizzy it also shows how the Black star riders are very much their own band with their own identity.

“Underneath The Afterglow” starts off with a great classic rock guitar riff with a great vocal by Ricky and what strikes me is how Christian’s backing vocals go together so well with Ricky’s that you would think they have been in a band together for years.

“Soldier In The Ghetto” is up next and this track adds a funky intro before relaxing back into a great Black Star riders chorus and shows a band that’s not afraid to mix things up a bit but when they do they do it well.

“Why Do You Love Your Guns” slows the pace down a bit with a beautifully crafted acoustic guitar intro before a crunchy electric guitar riff is introduced to build the song up and a great passionate vocal by Ricky makes this track another winner.

Next up we have “Standing In The Line Of Fire” and this track picks the pace back up with some pounding drums and driving bass and a shredding guitar solo that makes this a great rock song.

“What Will It Take?” is another track which features acoustic guitar mixed with electric to add to a song with great harmonies. Also, we have some great female backing vocals which yet again add another dimension to the Black star riders sound.

“In The Shadow Of The War Machine” is a awesome rocker of a track with some real biting guitar and lyrics that describe the troubled times we are living in yet even though this is a serious song it still has the great harmonies and an uplifting chorus that I hope to hear live on the upcoming tour.

Finishing off the album is the track “Poisoned Heart” and this is how an album should be finished off and that is with style with Ricky’s soaring vocals backed with great backing vocals from Christian and great all-round work from the rest of the band making sure this album goes out with a bang.

Overall words are hard to describe how great this album is because every song on here is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser with no weak tracks or filler to be heard anywhere.

This is a great album that on repeated listens is an album that will keep on giving and in this reviewer’s opinion is Black Star Riders finest work to date.

Buy ‘Another State Of Grace’ Here

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

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The first album I ever owned was ‘Sladest’ the 1973 released compilation album by Slade. It came with a second hand cassette recorder my mother picked up for me for my 7th birthday and as such it left a truly indelible mark on my life.

Of the ten 7” singles featured here in this soon to be released box set from BMG the A sides of the first six singles were all featured on ‘Sladest’, so there’s no way I could feel anything other than total delight when listening to the likes of ‘Coz I Love You’ and ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’ and the only thing that kind of disappoints me is that the likes of ‘Look What You Dun’ and ‘Get Down And Get With It’ aren’t included too.

Still you can’t have everything I suppose, its just that after the lavish ‘When Slade Rocked The World’ LP box set released by Salvo back in 2015 which contained a cornucopia of wonderful Slade ephemera from the 1971 -1975 era the fact that nine of the ten singles contained within this set also draw from the same period I do have a real sense of deja-vu when revisiting these songs so soon after, and again if you are going to focus on this period and not include the seismic ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ single then you do start to wonder what BMG are really trying to achieve with this release.

The answer I guess lies in the fact that those nine singles all come housed in internationally released picture sleeves, complete (where applicable) with non-album B sides; songs like the acoustic stomp of ‘My Life Is Natural’, the Kinks-y pop of ‘Kill ‘Em At The Hot Club Tonite’ and the simply superb ‘Wonderin’ Y’, a song Noel Gallagher must have heard many times over when composing most of the ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ album.  Once again though these tracks have all been released previously on the expanded Salvo versions of the corresponding Slade albums, so it really does boil down to the fact that if you are a Slade completist if the tenth “promo only” 7” of ‘Night Starvation’ is really worth the admission price for this set?

Look, I’ll admit I’ve already pre-ordered a copy of ‘Feel The Noize’, but if you are something of a more casual fan there are certainly much more cost-effective ways of getting these songs. You just won’t have the pic sleeves or the (ahem) flip-top box.

Slade’s music is timeless, and (largely) faultless, they are THE BAND I go to whenever I lose faith in life, plus as I once got caught with me trousers down by Noddy Holder at an Ozzy gig in Birmingham Odeon I do feel like we connected that day. Oh and please remember Slade are for life not just for Christmas, but there’s certainly nothing stopping you adding this box set to your Christmas list.

Buy it Here

Author: Johnny Hayward

Having followed Perry career from the debut Janes Addiction album on XXX that blew my tiny mind through the barren years of pretty average Later Day Janes albums to his return to making half-decent music with Porno For Pyros and Satellite Party to his eclectic solo career.  Farrell is probably better-known for his involvement in Lollapalooza and that hide behind the sofa cringefest reality TV show he and his Mrs did on satellite tv. But some of us remember him as the unique and captivating frontman to one of the finest bands of the late 80s. Fast forward to 2019 and has Mr. Farrell totally lost the plot of has he regained some of the street cred he once owned? Seeing as his last solo album was almost two decades ago has music left him behind or has he left me behind?

Firstly ‘Kind Heaven’ has just your nine songs lasting a shade over half an hour it begins with ‘(Red, White And Blue) Cheerfulness’ which is a mid-tempo romp that has a guitar lick that reminds me of Alice Cooper and Farrells instantly recognisable vocal is as strong as it ever was but the song sort of doesn’t make a statement of intent nor is it utterly bereft of quality its just it sort of enters the room unobtrusively and sits at the back rather than entering the ether with a fanfare maybe the second track which is much more of a classic Janes Addiction groove-driven (with bells and whistles) ‘Pirate Punk Politician’ is decent without being amazing but played at volume the production is as clear as the deep blue sea and at last ‘Kind Heaven ‘ is in the house!

‘Snakes Have Many Hips’ is a jazzy number and mashes up pop with some fancy samples never being afraid to push the envelope Farrell is quite happy to throw everything into his music including the kitchen sink and on ‘Medicine Girl’ he does just that.  With a cool industrial groove, it’s catchy and a decent tune but don’t ask me what he’s on about I don’t even go there.  I guess the thing to do with a Perry Farrell record is to not look too deeply into what’s going on and to just accept it for what it is its none of his previous projects but its all of them he absorb what’s going on like a sponge and spills it all over his own record its a head fuck and I guess that’s part of what he’s trying to do.  Empty the content of his mind on a record is no easy task but to make sense of it might be just as complex.  It’s not all for me but there are songs I really like.

 

‘One’ is like some 80s new romantic disco number and I just can’t get my noggin around that one and whilst there are no end of special guests from Foo Fighters and Cars and Soundgarden band members its Farrells wife who pops up most offering her sugar-sweet vocals to proceedings and she features heavily on this one. ‘Where Have You Been All My Life’ is a melting pot but largely lift music might be tidy if you’re off your tits in a field but at home looking for some music to play its wide of the mark.

To be fair its pretty much like the last few Janes albums and falls short of the real quality we know Farrell possesses maybe he’s still looking for his mojo or he needs to reconnect with his young and hungry self but fans looking to see what hes up to these days might want to stand back and take a deep breath because there is no Caught stealing or 3 days going on here at all maybe Farrell has moved on and now moves in totally different circles which is a shame – Maybe next time? Maybe.

Buy ‘Kind Heaven’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

Released back in February to much critical acclaim, the debut self-titled album from Scouser proto-punks Queen Zee passed us by at RPM simply because…well, no one sent us a copy! With renewed interest following a stellar performance at Rebellion and an upcoming tour with Skunk Anansie, we dug in, and we dug in deep.

So, we may be late to the party, but the late-comers get to smoke weed with the punks in the kitchen, while the straight kids try to get off with the beauty queens on the sofa…or maybe that’s just my teenage flashbacks! Anyway I digress, this album is a soundtrack for the outsiders, the outcasts and the kids who just wanna raise a middle finger to the ones who try to bring them down.

 

“I’m alone, I’m alone, I’m a loner” snarls singer Zee on album opener ‘Loner’. Delivered straight from the crotch, part Iggy and part Ziggy, it’s an anthemic, glam-slam slice of noise. This is as trashy and as cool as it gets kids. Sometimes a song just hits you from the first bar and ‘Loner’ is one of those songs. My interest is piqued and it doesn’t diminish for the next thirty minutes or so.

Maybe we have a band who can triumph where others have failed and truly ignite the touch paper and start a rock ‘n’ roll revolution for Generation Z (or should that be Generation Zee?)

Apparently, Zee is flying the flag for trans artists. Now, I couldn’t care less if their singer is a boy, a girl or a freakin unicorn! What I do care is that Zee rocks, and lo and behold Zee does rock!

‘Lucy Fur’ is a high energy blast of noise with enough glitter and stack heeled strut to entice a theatre full of Rocky Horror enthusiasts and enough raw guitar power to draw in the hardest of punks. ‘Sissy Fists’ is a darker, heavier beast altogether. Riding on a brooding bassline and urgent beats, it drips cool from every pore as Zee screams into the mic. This is a fight song pure and simple. Talking of fight songs ‘Idle Crown’ comes on like ‘Mechanical Animals’ era Marilyn Manson, and that is a sound for sore ears if ever there was one.

A small, Liverpool-based band who are just finding their feet, but sound like they are ready to take on the world, Queen Zee have an element of danger to their sound, like Manson did, like Iggy did like The Lee Harvey Oswald Band did. I get the feeling this band is living it. Yeah, I do believe Queen Zee are 4 real!

“You fuck like a porno movie” Zee drawls in the best Bowie/Manson hybrid I’ve heard in years. The song is called ‘Porno’, don’t play it in front of your mum! Their high energy pump and grind sound is perfect space-age punk rock, the likes of ‘Victim Age’ and ‘Boy’ are fiery, angst-ridden bursts of energy.

The tongue-in-cheek lyricism of closer ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’ is cool before it veers off on a sort of extended reprise as Zee rants over the noisy, repetitive riff the band jam out.

 

Defiantly political and openly queer, Queen Zee are a band who blend sleazy, punk rock sounds with socially aware lyricism, tackling homophobia and transphobia amongst other issues. They dare to raise a fist and yell and tell everyone who will listen that being different is ok. At times they are sleazy and throwaway, at other times they are deadly serious and they sound fresh as fuck in this fucked up world we live in.

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Author: Ben Hughes

So who’s doin’ the ragged Americana these days?  Gaslight Anthem went on hiatus Paul Westerberg has vanished outta sight I don’t know whos hitting the right notes and whos got that ragged guitar-driven story tellin’ Rock and Roll thing goin’ on?  the Hold Steady it would seem still like to turn up the amps, they still like to rock out they still haven’t gone full country or joined the balladeer circuit (well they might have individually but as a unit) these cats still make a noise.

Opener ‘Denver Haircut’ is just a great little uptempo story about the guy n gal next door but it’s done through a clean marshall amp and sounds mighty fine.  ‘You Did Good Kid’ is like Eels but louder or Waits with a better, less damaged voice.  Its got a lot of music going on under the storytelling with keyboards being hit and horn being honked damn there’s even tubular bells being struck if I’m not mistaken.  If Bruce hit writer’s block I know a band he could work with who would get him and what he does perfectly without becoming the E Street Band but no doubt were influenced by him especially on ‘Traditional Village’.

Finn is up there with the likes of Nick Cave for captivating an audience with his take on life and just scratching around surviving and the guy next door or down the street something someone like Mellencamp use to own. ‘Entitlement Crew’ is a class example of this whilst ‘T-Shirt Tux’ is like Costello when he started out with his Attractions.

The quality is maintained to the bitter end through the Lou Reed guitar clash of ‘Star 18’ and closing proceedings off with the jaunty ‘Confusion In The Marketplace’ I guess it is what it is and an album I was looking forward to picking up because I felt I trusted Finn and the band to just deliver a stone wall solid record and that’s just what I’ve got.  Whist its not going to change the world for half an hour it’ll make it a much brighter place and I love that.

Buy Thrashing Thru The Passion Here

Author: Dom Daley

Everyone’s favourite Etonian punk poet Frank Turner is back in familiar territory on album number 8, musically anyway. Turner has stated that he does not want to repeat himself with each album and ‘No Man’s Land’ sees the troubadour approach writing an album from a different angle. ‘No Man’s Land’ is a concept album based on the tales of forgotten women in history. From a 17th century Camden landlady who poisoned and cooked her lovers, to a Dutch courtesan, executed by firing squad, onto the tale of an Egyptian feminist, history buff Turner has done his homework .

A series of podcasts entitled ‘Tales From No Man’s Land’ accompany each song, and the themes of strong women stretch further than just the lyrical content. Gone (for now) is his band The Sleeping Souls, replaced by a full female backing band and producer to boot.

 

Frank’s canny lyricism and his knack of telling a fine tale does have a tendency to draw you in, and you can’t help but immerse yourself in the lives of these women. Some you will have heard of, some you won’t have a clue about, but after a few listens you will find yourself reaching for Wikipedia to find out a bit more. While over the course of a 3 and a half minute song the songwriter can only say so much, the point is made, and it’s up to the listener to find out more. Sometimes it works a treat and other times… not so much.

Opener ‘Jinny Bingham’s Ghost’ is a mighty fine, upbeat drinking song. Fiddles and skiffle beats fill the air like The Urban Voodoo Machine partying with The Pogues, as Frank reels off the first of many tall tales. Interestingly, the story is set in Camden Town, at The Underworld, on the spot where Jinny Bingham ran the tavern where she committed her dirty deeds.

The following ‘Sister Rosetta’ is typical Turner radio fodder. A pop-laced, perfect single about the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, who I first learned about through the teachings of Alabama 3. A nifty accompanying guitar riff and a crisp production job courtesy of Catherine Marks makes this song sparkle and shine.

The jazzy ‘Nica’ is a complete contrast from anything else and works really well. Full of brass, woodwind and smoky juke joint vibes, it mirrors the subject matter perfectly. Elsewhere, the album falters in just a few places. ‘Silent Key’, about tragic Challenger Space Shuttle astronaut Christa McAuliffe, is a song that first featured on the album ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’. It’s a bit of a (space) oddity to be honest. Frank just seems to be going through the motions here with a lazy vocal melody that doesn’t really go anywhere. And closing track ‘Rosemary Jane’, a song about his mum, while heartfelt and personal to Frank, is just plain dull.

But there certainly are flashes of brilliance to behold. The stripped back country of ‘Eye Of The Day’ closes side one ‘Nebraska’ style, just the man and his acoustic laid bare, recounting the tragic tale of Mata Hari and her untimely death. Simple, heartfelt and probably my favourite track right now.

Soaring choruses in the likes of ‘I Believed You, William Blake’, written through the eyes of his long suffering wife Catherine, and the epic feel of side 2 opener ‘The Death Of Dora Hand’ stay with me long after my white vinyl album has stopped spinning and I turn my attention to find more about these remarkable women.

 

‘No Man’s Land’ is a perfectly executed album, to be listened to from start to finish as a body of work. The podcasts are interesting, though not essential to enjoy the album to its fullest. Some have labelled the concept of this album as ‘gimmicky’ before even hearing the fruits of his labour, but I say this album is far from it. Is it Frank’s best album? No, but it’s up there with his best and has already had the most plays since ‘England Keep My Bones’ was released for me, so he must be doing something right. A lot of thought has gone into the production, the concept and the lavish packaging and it makes ‘No Man’s Land’ a welcome addition to anyone’s collection. Fascinating stuff indeed.

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Author: Ben Hughes